Anchorage Dentists Kick Off Oral Cancer Awareness Month
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so the Anchorage dentists at The Libby Group of Alaska want to make sure you understand this disease. Cases of oral cancer can go undiagnosed for years because people don’t recognize the warning signs. At-home screenings and regular visits to your dentist are the best ways to detect cancer early, but as with any other health condition, there are many preventive steps you can take to reduce your risk.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that there were 48,330 new cases of oral cancer discovered in 2016, 9,570 of which resulted in death. While the likelihood of a healthy adult developing oral cancer is low, it’s important to get screened during your regular teeth cleanings.
Oral cancer can begin anywhere in the mouth, as well as the throat and sinus areas. It often appears as red or white sores and can cause pain and swelling throughout the mouth. In addition to toothaches, you may also experience prolonged throat soreness or numbness that results in difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing. Being aware of these warning signs will help you and your Anchorage dentist detect and treat the cancer early, significantly increasing your chance of survival.
To date, oral cancer has no definitive cause, though many habits have been identified as contributing factors. According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, 90% of people with oral cancer use tobacco products. Cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco have a negative impact on oral health, so it’s best to avoid them. Poor diet and sexually-transmitted HPV are also linked to oral cancer, so take measures to keep yourself healthy.
If you’re interested in making oral cancer exams part of your regular dental care, you can count on the Anchorage dentists of The Libby Group. Their friendly staff can advise on preventative measures, as well as symptoms to look out for if you’re at risk.